My oven is broken. Really broken, out of commission. Repairs seem unlikely, because it is an in-the-wall 50’s oven, straight out of The Brady Bunch. It’s not exactly easy to find parts, so decisions must be made.
While I am deliberating about these decisions, I am getting by with using a cute little toaster oven that I found at WalMart. It is shiny, with nice buttons and dials that have lots of numbers. I notice these things, because so far all I’ve done is turn the dials and hoped for the best. It may not come as a surprise that this approach is not going well.
So last weekend I decided to conquer the confusion and get some things straight with how to use this little appliance. I started with a little French bread frozen pizza. I read the instructions on the box with dismay–temperatures and times for the microwave and for a conventional oven. I thought maybe they would translate directly, so I gave it a shot.
Result…burnt pizza. Charred. I ate it anyway, lesson learned, and tried another the next day with adjusted time and temperature. It came out beautifully, and I wrote down exactly what I did so I could list “frozen pizza” as an addition to my meal plan.
Then I got all confident and tried something fancy. Well…the meal wasn’t exactly fancy, just the math involved in figuring out how to successfully bake it!
I had chicken fries and cheesy potato bites–both of which needed to bake at different temperatures, for different amounts of time, and then flipped halfway through. The math overwhelmed me. I took notes. I made a diagram. I found extra timers. I made a little tray liner with tin foil, prepared my timers and utensils, and went for it.
Result…burnt chicken fries, undercooked cheesy potatoes, and unhappy me.
I knew my Brady Bunch oven so well. I knew that it tended to heat beyond the intended temperature. I had all kinds of balances worked out for different items that I would bake by reducing the time a little, or reducing the temperature a little. I had it all figured out. I knew what it would take to get a good result, whether baking chocolate chip cookies or a casserole. Now it feels like I am flying blind. This little toaster oven is getting the best of me!
I’m not giving up–I saved my diagrams and calculations–but I think I’m going to stick to simpler items for awhile. In the meantime, I am making a list of things that do NOT need to be baked…soup, anyone?